The stresses and joys of undertaking an extension

This time last year, I moved into a 2 bedroom semi detached bungalow, which needed a lot of time and attention. The kitchen and the bathroom have had no improvements made since being built in the 1960′s. At the back of the property we had a very old lean-to conservatory where we kept the tumble dryer and fridge.

My husband decided that he wanted to make better use of this space with an extension. This would include a wet room, utility room and dining area overlooking the back garden. My husband planned to undertake the work himself as he used to work as a builder with his father many years ago (he is now a mechanic). He planned to knock down the old lean to within the first week of moving in and explained that it should be do-able within 4 – 6 weeks and for a cost of around £600-£900. I had my concerns and, looking back now, I have to laugh that we thought this was possible. Of course he had not taken in to account the rise in price of the cost of materials and, within the first week, the initial budget had been spent on machine hire and most of the materials we required.


Building site


Well, we moved into the bungalow in April 2012 and it took until 2 days before Christmas that year to finish, meaning we spent most of the summer in a complete building site. Due to the long hours and strains of his job as a mechanic and then coming home in the evenings and weekends to work on the build, progress was very slow. I really do not think he envisaged what he was taking on, but I had every faith in him and was really excited about seeing the end result. However, there were times when we would look out on to the building site we had created and think we just needed to get a team of builders in to finish off the work. It was very difficult when you couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, but we had already come so far we were determined to finish it off and have the satisfaction of completing this on our own.

We were quite fortunate that we know some very good builders and we were able to ask them for advice. This included help on where to source most of the materials as well as use of a tipper van for disposing waste; this really helped kept our prices down. I spent most of my evenings on Ebay sourcing things like floor tiles, wall tiles, double glazed windows and wall insulation. I managed all of this successfully and at good prices which again really kept our prices down (and I got to do my most favourite thing – on line shopping!).

The complete build with all materials ended up costing just over £5000. We asked one of friends who is a builder what the extension would have cost with him and his response was £10,000-£15,000! So it just goes to show how much money we have saved doing it ourselves and also how much material prices have changed over the last 20 years. We now have a beautiful extension where I can put all my appliances, a lovely dining area where we can all sit and eat and a great wet room which our little girl loves. Next we start on the old original bathroom where we hope to have a free standing bath, new basin and toilet – and who knows we may just get this project finished in time for Christmas this year!


Wet room New Wet room – picture from Bathrooms Online

by Kelly

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